Wednesday, March 26, 2014


                                                       Mel's children.
Mel Wilson gives her view on Clothing Children by answering 5 questions.
1. As a woman and a mum you fill a variety of roles everyday. Can you describe some of those roles?
Aside from providing endless rounds of cuddles and listening to both tales of joy and woe, my primary job is chief organiser. Making sure everyone is where they should be at the right time, with the right gear! In between times I'm the laundress, chef, cleaner, chauffer and birthday cake baker. I also work for the National Child Cancer Network looking at ways to improve consistency and quality in national service delivery.
2. Who is in your family?
My husband Paul who does a weekly commute between Auckland and Wellington, three beautiful blonde girls (Eliza 10, Violet 6.5 & Olympia 4) each with their own unique outlook on life and one very sensible nearly 13 year old son (Oliver).
3. What is important to you about the clothes your children wear? Does your philosophy, approach to life or ethical choices affect your children's clothing?
I love clothing and fashion - your hair, makeup, clothing and shoes are an important way of telling the world a little bit about yourself. I like the children's clothing to set off their personalities to make them feel secure, unique and cared for.  I think its important for children to develop a strong sense of self so they can become confident in the decisions they make and the lifestyles they choose - clothing can be one way to make yourself feel special and in control. Setting out for the day in a piece of clothing, hair tie, or whole outfit that they love can help put a smile on a child's face and heart.
4. How do you approach the following factors when making decisions in clothing your children? * when to replace clothing   * where you go to find or buy clothes   * how much money to spend   * issues to checkout while choosing their clothes   * what the child wants and like   * your own personal taste   * any other factors.
I've got more strategic about buying kids clothes over time. I used to be a magpie who collected gorgeous pieces with very little thought of what else they had in their wardrobe. These days I try and set each child up with a couple of outfits at the beginning of each season that they have helped to chose and love.
I've stopped buying sale items for ‘next summer’ as it is too hit and miss from a size and need point of view. I’ve also stopped accepting hand-me-downs unless the children really need them on top of what they already have.
Kids aren’t always great at making decisions and I have found that limiting choices to some favourite outfits speeds things up and gets rid of a whole lot of clutter.
5. From your experience, what tips would you give a mum grappling with clothing her children?
  1. Buy things your kids like, not things you like.
  2. Let them try before you buy - once they're big enough to talk they're big enough to tell you if it's too itchy, too tight or the wrong colour!
  3. Lightly stock their wardrobes - if its at the bottom of the drawer or the back of the closet it never gets warn. You're better off with a few love love outfits than hundreds of items in a wardrobe. This might mean turning down hand-me-downs and sale items you just don't need so you don't get to the end of the season with clothing that has never been worn.
  4. Think about outfits for your kids not individual pieces. Try and get the pieces in your kids wardrobe to work together - tops and bottoms that intermatch means little ones can grab pieces that will go together no matter what.
  5. Put away uneeded clothes at the end of each season. Keep closets uncluttered by boxing up winter woollies during summer!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Our photo demonstrates the laid back approach to clothes in our house, pjs and bare feet are the Graham family staples! I might draw your attention to the fact that Zebi is sporting hot pink finger nails and toe nails like his mother though so we are a little trendy!!!

Via the answers to five questions Bessi Graham kindly gives her view on Clothing Children.
1. As a woman and a mum you fill a variety of roles everyday. Can you describe some of those roles?
I am a wife and mother as well as a person building a business in a new emerging sector which is massively demanding and carries with it challenge and opportunity! 
Because of the way we want to raise our kids my husband and I have chosen to swap roles - meaning he is what would traditionally be the "female role" of "primary caregiver". 
We knew to do my job well I needed to be focused and that meant Brad needing to be at home more and able to be the main person holding our family together. This has meant that I no longer cook, do the food shop or the washing! When I say we've swapped I really mean it! 
The question of roles interests me because our experience over the last few years has shown us that so many stereotypes about "sex" are actually more to do with "role". When you swap roles many of the male/female stereotypes that applied to the opposite sex suddenly start to be things you experience... Fascinating, but a conversation for another blog!!!
2. Who is in your family?
I consider my family to be my husband Brad, my step daughter and my two sons. They're my favourite people in the world!
3. What is important to you about the clothes your children wear? Does your philosophy, approach to life or ethical choices affect your children's clothing?
I probably have the daggiest children around and I LOVE that! I dress my kids for comfort and practicality. My favourite kids clothes are hand-me-downs, I love free things! My kids spend more time in their pajamas (or naked!) than anything else. I let them wear pajamas in public, bare feet in public, it really doesn't phase me. 
My kids are gorgeous and loved, and they know that. Their clothes are simply practical, nothing more. 
Of course if we were going to a special event I'd make sure they looked smart but I'd still never buy them expensive clothes or dress them up for every day life. 
With my step daughter, who is a teenager, it is slightly different. Two reasons: one, she's a girl so there is an added layer of wanting to help her to learn how to be confident in her skin and how to dress for her body shape, her own style and colouring. Secondly, she's older so teaching her the wonderful art of learning that a bit of modesty, and leaving something for the imagination, is much more tasteful and appealing that being trashy is important to me. Even with her though she has never placed a great deal of importance on clothes and we've certainly never spent a stack of cash on clothes for her. I'd rather her have a small wardrobe of clothes that suit her, fit her well and make her feel good than heaps of ill-fitting, unflattering, cheap clothes. 
4. How do you approach the following factors when making decisions in clothing your children? * when to replace clothing   * where you go to find or buy clothes   * how much money to spend   * issues to checkout while choosing their clothes   * what the child wants and like   * your own personal taste   * any other factors.
I don't replace clothes for my kids until they are completely RUINED! Most of their clothes were hand me downs, then get worn by both of them and then get passed on to my cousins son!
When I do need to buy them clothes it tends to be for my oldest son (if we don't have enough hand me downs in the next size up!). I wait for sales and then I buy 3x short sleeve t-shirts, 3x long-sleeve t-shirts, 2x jumpers, 3x shorts, 3x long pants (usually at least two of these are track suit pants for comforts sake), underwear and socks. I have never spent more than $200-$250 on all of the items listed above that they need in one size. When I have done that I then pass the clothes down to my next son and then on to my cousins son so pretty good value I'm sure they'll get passed on again after that too!
If the kids are particularly interested in a certain toy, character or theme I've bought them a t-shirt or pajamas featuring that favourite thing but because that's "special" we give them that as a birthday or Christmas present. I do take their colouring into consideration when I buy clothes too I must admit! Luckily for me both boys have the same colouring which helps!
5. From your experience, what tips would you give a mum grappling with clothing her children?
I'd simply say think practically and let them be kids. They'll have plenty of time to be sophisticated and dashing (if they want to be) when they're an adult. If you buy flash, expensive clothes you'll end up stifling their play because you'll be more concerned with them ripping their pants or staining their shirt... That's just unnecessary stress in my mind. 
I consider one of my main jobs as a parent as teaching our kids the art of "time and place". There is a time and place for most things in life and the ability to make wise judgements about that is what they need to learn. Clothes are a bit the same, time and place need to be taken into account. 
In our family home is a place for pajamas and chilling out and that's just the way we like it. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"CLOTHING CHILDREN : There's More to it Than Just Putting Fabric on Their Back"

"Kids definitely know how to have fun. So it makes sense they would understand fashion in its purest form:as a place to escape, let your imagination run wild and totally express yourself. ... when it comes to the business of getting dressed, I've found that my kids already get it.
They constantly remind me about the essence of style:that it's not trendy looks or fancy labels that matter, but how much fun you can have expressing yourself."
Cynthia Nellis. What Kids Teach us About Style. 
Cynthia Nellis talks about children expressing themselves through the clothing they wear. This is one of a number of considerations that we need to keep in mind as we clothe our children. 
Have a look at these 7 points to do with clothing your children ~
1. Occupation. 
What is your child going to be doing 80% of their time? 
If they are a newborn they sleep, so 80% of their wardrobe needs to be clothes to sleep in. This means that twenty satin, lace-covered, heavily embroidered dresses no matter how exquisite, will not get much wear.
If your child spends 80% of their time digging holes in the dirt, hanging upside down from the swing, climbing five metre trees and playing rough and tumble, they won't survive well on a wardrobe essentially of skinny jeans or mini skirts with skin-tight crop tops.
- Think about what your child does and what clothes will help them in those 'doings'. -
2. Climate.
Years ago my husband took our three eldest for a few days to the snow so they could learn to ski. The ski instructor complimented my husband on how well our kids were dressed for the snow, and then he went on, "You wouldn't believe the number of parents who come to ski all snug and warm in their ski gear while their kids barely have enough on to keep warm."
- Think about where you plan to holiday and if necessary borrow clothing or buy second hand so they have what's required for the conditions. -
3. Feeling.
Feeling or comfort considers things like -
  * has the child grown lately and therefore need the next size up in shoes or clothes?
  * does a certain fabric irritate their skin? One of our children found 'clingy' fabrics uncomfortable to wear.
  * are some clothing designs more troublesome than others? Some kids hate belts of waisted clothes. Very thin children look out of proportion in baggy tops.
  * for little children, check bulky winter jackets don't restrict their arm movement.
4. Durable. (from Nancy)
When buying clothes that are durable quality is important. Better quantity items may cost a little more initially, but work out cheaper in the long run as the item lasts longer and doesn't fall apart. I also look to purchase items that don't date - popular characters or licensed merchandise could be hugely popular one year but out of favour by the next year, not to mention they are often more expensive to begin with. I prefer to stick with colours and patterns that are easy to work with, that can be matched with many options.
5. Share. (from Viv)
One of the great things about a large family is that the children learn to share everything from food to toys, time, ideas and even clothes. Apart from being a great way to save money when it comes to clothing 7 children, this has been a lovely aspect especially among our 5 girls, who  as they have entered teenage years, have all got used to lending out and being willing to share each other's clothes. There are drawbacks of course, such as an item not being returned as clean as it was, or worse still being ruined, or not returned at all! But these are little things compared to the benefits of sharing. Firstly they see their clothes being worn in a new and interesting way, with different colour co-ordination and combinations, they learn to understand their own physique, what suits them and what doesn't and to be gracious enough to admit that it may even suit others better. They learn to respect one another and have consideration for one another and it also teaches them to not hold on too dearly to possessions which are only after all things which moth and rust destroy.
6. Economy. (from Nancy)
I have a box for each of my kid's clothes. What one child has outgrown will go into the box for the next sibling down. This allows me to plan in advance as I can see what essential items are missing from a child's wardrobe. With my list, I take advantage of sales to stock up mid season for this year. End of season clearance is a great time to purchase items needed for next year. This ensures my money stretches further, and I don't end up impulse buying while out shopping. If you don't mind pre-loved items, quality labels are often good as new after being worn by one child for a season, and can be picked up for a fraction of the original cost either at secondhand, op shops or online sites.
7. Unique.
Each child is unique and what they wear should reflect their uniqueness. As Cynthia Nellis in the introduction quote, said, children can express themselves through the clothing they wear. From a young age let them have a say in how to dress, for example a 2year old can easily choose their shoes or socks. By 5, they can make choices of combinations they like to wear together. By 10 they definitely have preferences in types of shoes, clothes and accessories they enjoy wearing. Letting them practice develops taste and helps them feel confident in making choices as they find the style of clothes that reflects them. I think this is important, in an age where the fashion industry even with children, can so easily dictate what should be worn.
THISWEEK ~ To help you keep the 7 points in your head, by rearranging them they form an acrostic -
F  Feeling
O  Occupation
C  Climate
U  Unique
S  Share
E  Economy
D  Durable


Sunday, March 2, 2014

"CLOTHING CHILDREN - Part 1 - Your Childhood Memories + A Brief History of Children's Clothing"

This is the first post on a series "CLOTHING CHILDREN".
Do you have difficulties in finding, choosing or buying clothing for your children? If so, hopefully the posts over the next few weeks will give you some helpful and practical ideas. 

My memories of childhood clothes were of the excitement of going to Save Mart!! My clothes always seemed to be comfort driven and no matter what they were, they were always too hot. I hated singlets and any kind of button front shirt, but I also have the fondest memories of a second hand Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs hoodie which I LOVED!!! I had no idea who the team was, I just knew it was cool. R.
My little red short sleeve summer shirt with different coloured yachts all over it. All our winter clothing was made of wool which meant we sometimes smelt as mothers didn't wash every day. S.
Handmade, a lot of my clothes were handmade by my mum, nana and aunts.
All my girl cousins and I would have the same outfits in different colours or prints. We loved it – we were all “twins”. M.
Horrible, ugly leather sandals in summer – not of my fashion taste. Wearing matching clothes with my older brother. Z.
Having 3 older sisters hand-me-downs. However I got used to it pretty fast. Chopping up and changing garments became normal. I think having started out young with clothing in this way has made me more grateful for the brand new garments that I can now buy on my own. B.
What are your memories of the clothes you wore as a child?
Before the 1800's in most cultures of the world, children either wore miniature versions of adult clothing or nothing at all. The slow change that occurred through the nineteenth century in child fashion, was a consequence of attitude-change about children in general, thanks to many wonderful reformers across the world. 
In the early 1800's western boys and girls were dressed in gowns with a fitted bodice, a shorter version of women's fashion at the time.
A departure from traditional white and black clothes to the subtle introduction of alternative colours and even pattern fabrics, began in the mid 1800's.
At the same time child footwear design and decoration showed more child interest. 
The 1920's and 30's saw change in the design of child clothing itself with it became increasingly more casual by the 1950's. This was partially due to the introduction of synthetic fabrics but also fabric design had become more cheerful.
Jeans finally infiltrated child fashion in the 1960's along with elasticised skirts.
The explosion of the child fashion industry started in the 1970's with fun and special event wear, and the new emphasis on unique and individual design for children.
A return to more standard and simple design with the evolution of the Tee shirt, was welcomed by those who did the laundry as it removed their task of ironing. 
A mixture of casualness and exotic fizz to the full extremes has been and continues to be the picture of child fashion right through to today. Anything goes!
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ show your kids photos of you or your parents, even great grandparents in their childhood clothing and have a big laugh together.